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Lebanon: Aoun-Berri Dispute Threatens Feeble Agreement over Electoral Law | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri, President Michel Aoun and former Prime Minister Tammam Salam attend a military parade to celebrate the 73rd anniversary of Lebanon’s independence in downtown Beirut, Lebanon November 22, 2016 (REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir)

Beirut – A new dispute between Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Speaker Nabih Berri is threatening a feeble agreement over a new electoral law based on the proportional system, which divides the country into 15 electoral constituencies.

While the two officials have stressed that there was no rift between them, statements made by Berri during a rare news conference on Monday in Ain al-Tineh have highlighted a disagreement over constitutional matters.

Parliament convenes in two ordinary cycles from mid-March till the end of May and from mid-October through the end of December, according to the Lebanese Constitution.

Parliament’s ordinary cycle ends on Tuesday and the deputies cannot therefore convene to pass laws unless the president and the prime minister agree to open an extraordinary parliamentary cycle.

Berri said on Monday that Parliament could extend its regular sessions beyond May 31 after Aoun suspended sessions for one month.

He added: “Parliament has the right to continue its cycle after its suspension as normal.”

According to Article 59 of the Constitution, the “president may postpone the Parliament’s meeting for a period not exceeding one month, but he may not do so twice during the same [parliamentary] session.”

Berri stressed that he would seek to agree with Aoun on the timing of the next parliamentary session, stressing that there was no rift with the president.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, sources in the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) said that Aoun was linking the opening of an extraordinary cycle to an agreement over a new voting law.

The sources added that the president was confident that a new law would be drafted before the end of Parliament’s term on June 20.

“The president is exerting pressure to draft a new electoral law,” the sources noted, stressing that no political party or leader, including Berri, wanted to see parliamentary vacuum taking place in the country.